20 August 2112: The debate about how to measure productivity in Australia centres on nuanced levels indoor air quality. In the emerging powerhouses such as India, in Singapore and in Japan, which is facing power shortages after the nuclear disaster of Fukushima, there’s no debate – productivity is a function of temperature.

An article in The New York Times points to the double whammy of airconditioning: as the planet warms people will want greater levels of airconditioning, which will lead to greater global warming.

  • Photo: Recent power failures in India were partly blamed on rising airconditioning, and partly on the quality of the grid

The recent failure of the electricity grid in India was partly caused by greater use of airconditioning, the article says. The promise of  “cool” has become a powerful selling point for commodities, it says. In Singapore,  airconditoning underpinned  economic expansion. People simply work better in cool conditions.

Japanese studies have found that “while workers tolerated dimmer light just fine, every degree rise in temperature above 25 Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) resulted in a 2 per cent drop in productivity.”

“Over the course of the day that meant they accomplished 30 minutes less work.”

At temperatures of  between 82 and 86 degrees Farenheit, “symptoms like headache, drowsiness and difficulty concentrating increase, which may explain the drop in performance.”